Exploring Ha Long Bay by Boat

 The two-day tour to see Ha Long Bay by boat left an impression on us and 21 foreign tourists from France, the UK and the Philippines. Seen from the boat, the world nature heritage site seemed to have a strange beauty, giving new perceptions to tourists.

We started our trip from the wharf on Tuan Chau island. Despite the familiar images of the islets of Cho Da (Rock Dog), Ga Choi (Fighting Cock) and Dinh Huong (Incence Burner) reflecting in the deep blue water, we got new insights of the world natural heritage site from the boat.

We stopped at Ti Top island, the first destination of our trip when the afternoon golden sunshine spread over the water surface and the cool breezes blew from the sea. On the island, tourist can climb up to the peak of the mountain to have a panoramic view of the whole bay or swim in the cool water at the foot of the mountain.

On the two sides of stone steps leading to the peak of Ti Top mountain which is over 100m high are the typical flora of the wet, tropical, evergreen forest ecosystem. There are many stops on the way to the peak so tourists can have a chance to admire the beautiful landscape of the bay at different heights.

Tuan Chau wharf is the largest artificial wharf in Vietnam with a synchronous and modern infrastructure.
Since being put into operation, the wharf has contributed to promote tourism in Quang Ninh. Photo: Tran Hieu/VNP
Visiting Ha Long Bay by An Nam boat. Photo: Dang Tien/VNP
Tourists relax on the desk An Namboat. Photo: Trong Chinh/VNP

An Nam boat has three floors with 1 Suit and 5 Deluxe rooms. Photo: Tat Son/VNP

Tourists behold the beauty of Ha Long Bay. Photo: Dang Tien/VNP

Over 600 boats of 3-5 stars are allowed to take tourists to visit Ha Long by the local authority.
Photos: Tat Son/VNP

Ha Long Bay has a total area of 1,553 km2, including the two famous bays of Bai Tu Long to the east and Lan Ha (where Cat Ba Island) to the south. It has 1,969 large and small islands with a diverse fauna and flora.

At the highest point, tourists can see the immense and majestic Ha Long Bay with all its romantic scenery. To the north is the city of Ha Long with Bai Tho mountain and Bai Chay bridge crossing over Cua Luc Bay where the Nu Hoang (Queen) Cable System and the Sun Wheel are. In the south and southeast is Bo Hon islet. In the west and southwest, there are a series of islands and mountains. At the foot of Ti Top island is the sandy beach which looks like a crescent moon. From afar, high speed boats take passengers from cruises to visit Ti Top Island.

In the late afternoon, our boat anchored near Hon Trong (Drum) islet where we rowed kayaks. The islet was named Hon Trong by fishermen because it has sounds like drumbeats when the wind blows against the rocky cliffs. Not far is the studio where parts of the film “Kong: Skull Island” were shot.

Ti Top island with white sandy beach and a clear and turquoise sea is considered the heart of Ha Long Bay,
a world heritage site. Photo: Tat Son/ VNP
The beach at the foot of Ti Top island is an ideal destination during the trip to visit Ha Long. Photo: Trinh Bo/VNP
Sung Sot cave (Surprising cave), one of the largest caves in Ha Long Bay, was selected one of
10 most beautiful caves of the world by the Association of Tourism Offices and Brokers of the
Czech Republic in 2012. Photo: Thong Thien/VNP

Two English tourists, Robin Lester and Kelly Williams row a kayak near Hon Trong islet. Photo: Trong Chinh/VNP
Tourists do yoga in the early morning on An Nam boat. Photo: Thong Thien/VNP
Tourists are shown the way to make fresh spring rolls. Photo: Thong Thien/VNP

One of the most wonderful experiences during our trip was to see the sunset. The sun slowly went down over the mountain range. In the distance, boats with lights twinkled in the background of a dark blue sky and sea. All of these sights gave the tourists feelings of being lost in a majestic and fanciful space.

The next morning, we visited Sung Sot (Surprising) cave. The path to the cave is grafted stone steps under the leafy canopy of green forests. The cave which is located on Bo Hon islet in the heart of the world heritage site boasts mesmerising stalactites.

Sung Sot Cave consists of two parts with a total area of over 10,000m2. It is considered a theatre of opera on the bay. The first part shows diverse stalactites in different shapes, such as monkeys going for food or bears and deer.

The second has a special attraction for tourists because it has small lakes with stories related to national hero Thanh Giong, one of the four immortal saints of Vietnam. The stalactites inside the cave remind tourists of the sword and the horse used by Thanh Giong to fight against invaders.

The two-day tour on the boat was not enough for us to explore all of this world wonder. Therefore, we will surely be back in the near future.

By VNP’s Golden Moment Photography Club